Getting Ready For Spring Break Travel

For Spring Break this year the kids and I are flying to visit my sister and her family in North Carolina.

At least once a day for the last few weeks Anna looks at me and asks "Gabrielle?" (her cousin). When I say "not today" she says, "Mommy's lap?" And then I say, "No, you'll sit in your own seat on the plane."

Since I'll be flying solo with the kids (the legislature is in session so Chris will be working) I'm definitely planning ahead to make the experience as mellow and pain-free as possible.

This past weekend I started making a list of things I want to make sure we take along on this adventure:

1. Go-Go Babyz Kidz Travelmate. We used the Travelmate last summer on our trip to Italy and it was awesome. It connects right to Anna's car seat and basically turns it into a stroller for going through the airport. She's happy and comfortable in her car seat and we'll need it when we get to North Carolina.

2. A backpack for each kid to carry a few special things. Simon will use his school backpack and I found this toddler backpack for Anna. She's already been wearing it around the house pretending she's going to school.

3. LunchBots Duo Stainless Steel Lunch Box/Food Container. I found these at the grocery store yesterday and will be using them to store snacks in each backpack. I'm thinking something like goldfish, dried fruit and gummies. I'll take water bottles for each that can be filled up once we get through security.

4. A new pack of washable crayons, a coloring book, and a blank book for Anna. A new dot to dot for Simon: The Greatest Dot-to-Dot Book in the World, Book 1.

5. A new book or two for each of them and a favorite or two.

6. A new small toy. I'm thinking something like the Playmobil Dad With Stroller for Anna and a small lego set for Simon.

7. Empty ziplock bags. So great for corralling those small toys, snacks, etc.

8. I want to remember to download a couple movies onto my computer before we leave. I'm also wanting to find out if there's a way to connect two sets of headphones to my computer so both kids can listen to the movie.

9. Cameras. Maybe a couple disposables or the Instax. I'd love to invite them to take their own photos along the way.

Any favorite travel tips - especially for traveling with a toddler?

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  1. sue

    2011-03-01 00:25:11 -0500

    How about the smaller doodle pro writer? Target sells those cheap, esp in like an Easter treat aisle or at the checkout aisle. Good luck.

  2. AnneE

    2011-03-01 02:51:49 -0500

    I always keep something "new" for the trip back home. I find the kids to be more impatient on the way back home. Safe trip to all three of you!

  3. Mich

    2011-03-01 03:47:29 -0500

    Ok pick the Kiwi - but what the heck are 'goldfish'?!?! I assume they are a treat/sweet/snack food? I have never heard of them before - unless you are into eating actual fish - LOL!

    Sounds like a great holiday! How long does Spring break go for?

  4. Melody Sperl

    2011-03-01 09:45:13 -0500

    This post brought back many wonderful memories of traveling when our kids were small. Like you, we have a boy & girl. I have done overseas (l o n g) flights alone with them. I was glad to have something new tucked in their backpacks that they'd never seen before. I would recommend an extra change of clothes for them in YOUR bag - just in case. (The craziest things can happen) We had a book about traveling on an airplane that we read 100x before our trips. They usually carried their "Quillows" which are travel size quilts that fold up and tuck together to form a pillow (made by Grandma!) to make for cozy nap time. Have a wonderful trip!

  5. Angela

    2011-03-01 12:20:40 -0500

    Sticker books (some really great ones with tons of stickers @ Costco for around $7), I Spy books, Colorforms, Card games....all these were favorites with my kids. Small, easy to carry and keep them entertained for long periods of time. I also liked the suggestion of pipe cleaners for the same reasons. I don't like play dough on planes because it gets in everything and is messy. My kids love legos, polly pockets, etc. but they can be problematic if they drop them...lost pieces can be upsetting to kids. Mine are older now and mostly watch movies or play video games on the DS or phone...they still like lots of little snacks :)

  6. andrea

    2011-03-01 16:22:56 -0500

    I've travelled on planes with my 3 kids a lot - ages 2 thru 13 - and contrary to a comment above, by far the best time occupier on the plane, I've found, is play-dough. Just one colour, in a tin. With a few plastic cutting tools. They roll it out on the trays, it cleans up in a snap, and it entertains everyone. ENjoy!

  7. terminal blocks

    2011-03-01 20:26:41 -0500

    definitely do not forget your camera ;)

  8. Iris

    2011-03-02 04:16:49 -0500

    Hope you're still seeing comments on this post. I went on a long plane trip from California to the Carribean with my 4 and 7 yr old girls this summer and here are a few things:

    Those airplane plugs that relieve the pressure buildup in the ears really, really work. I could not find the kids size anywhere locally so ordered at Amazon. My older daughter didn't wear them the first landing and screamed the whole time. Wore them the other times and no problem!

    For headphones, try out a couple first. Both my girls did not like the headphones with the band across the head (even the kids size kept falling backward) and the kids earbuds were too big to fit well. Mine liked these earhook type:

    Stick to carryon only, and make sure all your carryon has wheels. Nowadays many connecting flights are in terminals far apart. At Miami airport it took us 30 minutes of sprinting to get to our connecting flight.

    My last tip, bring lots of snacks, including protein like cheese sticks. Even if you're ready to spend the $$$ for their food (which we were), they actually run out of food. And even if you think you can pick something up at the airport, if you have a connecting flight you might not have time if they have you running clear across the airport!

    Hope you have a better experience than we did. We want to go to Florida for our spring break to see the Space Shuttle launch and
    Disney World, but both my girls are not looking forward to another miserable plane ride. (the horribly timed/placed connections and lack of food weren't the only things that had us disliking the airlines)

  9. Robin

    2011-03-02 05:57:46 -0500
  10. benessi

    2011-03-02 11:18:51 -0500

    Larger ziplock bags for poopy diapers (if Anna is still in diapers).
    Stickers/sticker books/acitivity books are also useful.

  11. BonnieB

    2011-03-02 17:40:08 -0500

    I would add to your list a package of pipe cleaners. I flew from Ohio to Colorado last year alone with my two-year old. The pipe cleaners were great...We made people and letters and bracelets and on and on. My sons, ages 6 & 7, like to play with pipe cleaners in the car on long trips.

  12. Lindsay

    2011-03-02 18:44:47 -0500

    I wrapped small individual gifts for my 16 month old when we flew to Hawaii. I had something new for each hour of the trip. Little things like hotwheels, fruit snacks, small stuffed animals, small plastic animals, etc...I also packed a few ziplocks of hershey kisses and earplugs for the people sitting around me, but yours are a bit older than mine. Also, I let me 2.5 year old have a disposable camera on the day our second child was thing I've ever done! Have a good trip :)

  13. geezee

    2011-03-02 21:53:53 -0500

    I love all these ideas. We travel a lot. One thing I learned is to have a change of clothes for myself. I had tomato juice spilled on me once and I just pulled out my 2 gallon zipper bag and exchanged my dirtied shirt and jacket for the one that I had packed.Also little washcloths that expand in water helped me on one trip. I used my bottled water to wet the cloth to give to my seatmate when she overheated while we were stuck on tarmac too long.

  14. Danelle

    2011-03-03 10:53:45 -0500

    Hey Ali,
    I love planning for spring break. We're heading to the beach. I wanted to let you know that I bought a connverter for my laptop that allows 2 headphones in to the one slot. Mine came with a whole bunch of different converters for headphones since with ipods and ipads there's a whole new world of headphones, sizes, etc. It's a nice thing to have.

    Enjoy your break and your time with family, will you be on the beach?

  15. Melanie Hughes

    2011-03-03 13:50:57 -0500

    I've flown long haul with a baby and toddler (UK to NZ = 30hrs) a couple of times and always make sure I have at least one change of clothes for each child, lots of nappies, something for them to suck on if their ears get blocked, baby paracetomol and baby nurofen, plastic bags for any dirty clothes, slippers and fav soft toy. Always more snacks than needed. If you can check out what childrens programmes are shown in flight and then get the kids to see them beforehand, that can help. Anything with pieces that could be dropped down the seat rendering toy useless would drive me mad but crayons, paper etc always a winner.

    Good luck.

  16. Melanie Hughes

    2011-03-03 13:52:43 -0500

    Also, magnadoodles are great!

  17. amy s

    2011-03-03 14:31:32 -0500

    Hi Ali! I personally recommend the triangle shaped crayons from Crayola. They do not roll around the airplanes trays like a round crayon would.

    I also remove any new toys from the packing and then place them in the plastic bags. This way I don't have to deal with finding room for the trash until an attendant comes by. Your kids are old enough to know they are new without being in the package in my opinion.

    Have a good trip!

  18. Susie Turpin

    2011-03-04 12:26:19 -0500

    you can get a dual jack thing at Radio Shack. Plugs into your laptop and you can plug two head phones into it.FYI.

  19. Fontaine

    2011-03-04 23:28:33 -0500

    I haven't read all the comments (there are a lot of them lol) but whenever I fly with my son, I always make sure to bring an extra 'green bag' in our carryon/backpack.

    You sometimes have to cram stuff to fit it into the "1 personal item and 1 carryon" rule, but there is no way that I'm gonna be able (or want to even try) to re-cram it all back in there after removing it during the flight. Enter the extra bag: everything we use during flight gets put into the extra bag. I carry one bag on the plane, and two half-full bags off the plane.

    Also, our last trip, I discovered the beauty of tall, thin containers (ours was from the chips purchased on the flight lol). We were able to safely and easily store all of his little toys and cars in one container, locate it quickly in the bag/backpack, and avoid having to dig into the depths of the bag during flight. I'm seriously adding one of these to my "must pack list" from now on. This could also work for a small set of legos or markers with small pieces of rolled paper, or many other small toys.

    As far as cameras, I let my 3 year old use one of my "old" digitals that I've since upgraded. He knows he has to use the wrist strap, and I keep an eye on him with it, but it's his for using.

    Good luck!!

  20. Ellen

    2011-03-05 16:02:03 -0500

    A small travel Etch a Sketch - way easier to manage than crayons!! Felt board playset - sticky, easier to keep track of pieces than with smaller toys. Ipod with kids' music. We used to do this all the time but they are 14 and 10 now and I am out of practice thinking of these things!! Good luck!!

  21. Jennifer Johnson

    2011-03-05 21:21:13 -0500

    we are getting ready to visit family in Oregon (so excited!!!) and I have the kids bags pretty much figured out, but am still trying to find a good bag for myself to carry (laptop, DSLR, wallet, book or mag). does anyone have any suggestions of what works well for you?

  22. Liz

    2011-03-06 16:41:18 -0500

    When my daughter was little, I found the Pennywhistle Traveling with Kids book chockful of helpful tips and advice. I bought mine from the local bookstore, but they also have it on Amazon.

  23. Cristiane

    2011-03-08 23:24:51 -0500

    Great to plan our trips ahead and have everything we need in hands. I have two girls myself. One is 4 1/2 and the other one is 14 months. That's the first time I travel to Brazil, where I'm from, by myself with them. With all the flights and connections, it takes me over 26 hours to get to my parents house.
    I used in the past the car seat that transforms into a stroller too. It was great with my old one. However now with two I need something else. I have that Sit and Stand stroller which helped me a lot last year and I'm sure it will help me this year too. I'm getting a hiking backpack for the little one, like those you can put the baby in it and also have a backpack to carry all the girls stuff (diapers, clothes and medicine - which I have to take a few extras, as my oldest daughter has a bleeding disorder). In Brazil, due to their "silly" laws we can't bring the stroller to the gate when you land. Therefore, I have to walk almost 1/2 mile to get through immigration and to get my luggage, carrying a 27 pound 14 month old baby. Crazy! I have traveled with the oldest one 6 times abroad already and every time something different happens and I have to improvise and come up with something more creative and easier for the next trip. I'm seriously writing a book on how to travel with kids with disorders abroad. We have to take so many things!!!
    Anyway, the oldest has her backpack, which she uses for her school there (I always enroll her in the school there - great immersion), where I put two of her favorite books, neck pillow, small airplane blanket, a few toys, crayons and coloring book, water bottle and snacks (milk, juice, crackers, dried fruit - we never know whether we will get stuck in the airplane or at the airport at a time when all the restaurants and stores are closed - which happened to me twice), and my ipod with 5 movies and her favorite songs - extra batteries for it too). This time I will have to take my ipad so that the little one can watch something too.
    I hope you have a wonderful trip with them and good luck!
    Take care

  24. Brenda

    2011-03-08 23:53:54 -0500

    When my kids were little the color wonder products were lifesavers on trips, they got the treat of markers and I didn't worry about it staining anything! Model Magic is another favorite - it's similar to playdoh but doesn't crumble or dry out. I love it since it doesn't make a mess and I always store them in ziploc sandwich baggies and then put all the sandwich baggies into a gallon baggie. Have fun on your trip!

  25. JenRay

    2011-03-15 23:32:35 -0400

    Great list! I got mine the triangular crayons, so they wouldn't roll off the tray table, but then the tray table didn't come down flat over her lap in her car seat anyway! The small magna doodle worked well for us. Don't count on being able to use the tray table. I had a few little toy things gift wrapped for really good behavior. And for the descent, paci, sippy, water bottle, gum, sucker, or anything they can suck or chew to help the pressure change in their ears.

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